Danica fast, but day ends early

Danica Patrick leads laps, engine fails in Daytona race

Danica Patrick’s NASCAR Nationwide Series adventure on Saturday was anything but a day at the beach.

Despite leading five of the first 11 laps in the Drive4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Patrick lost power with her GoDaddy.com Chevy and ended up in the garage after completing just 31 laps. She would finish the race in 36th place.

“I feel pretty slow,” Patrick reported to the crew on Lap 28. She had dropped to 20th on Lap 20 and had worked her way up to 11th five laps later before she fell off the pace.

“You guys gave me a fast car, sorry I couldn’t make the most of it there,” Patrick said. “That was fun for a while. We were fast, no doubt.”

Patrick’s crew chief for the Turner Scott Motorsports entry, Mike Greci replied, “It was pretty fun watching you drive up front.”

Patrick thanked her new spotter Brandon Benesch, who came on board this season.

“Thank you,” Benesch said. “That will give us more confidence for tomorrow.”

Patrick qualified 12th in her 59th career Nationwide Series start.

She said before the car “shut down, it began slowing down.”

“When I lost the lead pack, I thought the revs weren’t exactly where they needed to be,” Patrick said. “When I lost that pack, I knew something had to be wrong. When I couldn’t keep up with Tony (Stewart) and that group of three, I knew it.

“Unfortunately, we were having an awesome day. I felt it was really, really fun out there. It’s fun to do. It’s fun to do these speedway races. My motivation was to go out there and win today. I felt like we had a good chance. It’s a bummer for Turner Scott Motorsports, for GoDaddy. We were all having a good week and it was looking to get better ... We have the big one tomorrow, so I hope we got all the bad luck out of the way.”

Patrick will lead the Sprint Cup field to green on Sunday for the Daytona 500. Patrick is the first female to win the pole for a NASCAR Cup race.

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